Sonic the Hedgehog (Japanese: ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Hepburn: Sonikku za Hejjihoggu?), trademarked Sonic The Hedgehog, is the title character and protagonist of the Sonic the Hedgehog series released by Sega, as well as numerous spin-off comics, five animated shows, and an animated OVA.
Sonic is a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog who has the ability to run at supersonic speeds and the ability to curl into a ball, primarily to attack enemies. Throughout the course of the video games, Sonic most commonly has to race through levels, collect power up rings and surviving against a host of natural obstacles and minions to achieve his goal. While many individuals at Sega had a hand in Sonic's creation, programmer Yuji Nakaand artist Naoto Ohshima are generally credited with the creation of the character.
The first game was released on June 23, 1991, to provide Sega with a mascot to rival Nintendo's flagship character Mario. Since then, Sonic has become one of the world's best-known video game characters, with his series selling more than 80 million copies. In 2005, Sonic was one of the first game character inductees into the Walk of Game, alongside Mario and Link.
Note: He is not the fastest thing alive. This is a famous misconception.
While Sega was seeking a flagship series to compete with Nintendo's Mario series with a character to replace Alex Kidd as the company's mascot, several character designs were submitted by its Sega AM8 research and development department. Many results came forth from their experiments with character design, including an armadillo (who later developed into Mighty the Armadillo), a dog, a Theodore Roosevelt look-alike in pajamas (who would later be the basis of Dr. Robotnik/Eggman's design), and a rabbit (who would use its extendible ears to collect objects, an aspect later incorporated in Ristar). Eventually, Naoto Ohshima's spiky teal hedgehog, initially codenamed "Mr. Needlemouse", was chosen as the new mascot. Sonic's blue pigmentation was chosen to match Sega's cobalt blue logo, and his shoes were a concept evolved from a design inspired by Michael Jackson's boots with the addition of the color red, which was inspired by both Santa Claus and the contrast of those colors on Jackson's 1987 album Bad; his personality was based on Bill Clinton's "Get it done" attitude. The origins of Sonic can be traced farther back to a tech demo created by Yuji Naka, who had developed an algorithm that allowed a sprite to move smoothly on a curve by determining its position with a dot matrix. Naka's original prototype was a platform game that involved a fast-moving character rolling in a ball through a long winding tube, and this concept was subsequently fleshed out with Oshima's character design and levels conceived by designer Hirokazu Yasuhara.[
Sonic was created without the ability to swim because of a mistaken assumption by Yuji Naka that all hedgehogs could not do so. A group of fifteen people started working on thefirst Sonic the Hedgehog game, and renamed themselves Sonic Team. The game's soundtrack was composed by Masato Nakamura of the band Dreams Come True. Sega sponsored the group's "Wonder 3" tour, painting Sonic on the tour bus, distributing pamphlets advertising the game, and having footage of the game broadcast above stage prior to its release. The original concepts gave Sonic fangs and put him in a band with a human girlfriend named Madonna. However, a team from Sega of America, led by Madeline Schroeder, who calls herself "Sonic's mother", "softened" the character up for an American audience by removing those elements. This sparked a heated issue with Sonic Team. Naka later admitted that it was probably for the best.
Sonic's appearance varies greatly depending on the medium and the style in which he is drawn. In the video games, Sonic's original design by Oshima was short and round, with short quills, a round body, and no visible irises. Artwork featuring this design and drawn by Akira Watanabe was displayed on the package artwork for Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic's proportions would change for the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Mega Drive. Sonic's head to height ratio was changed from 1:2 to 1:2.5 for appeared. For the 1998 release of Sonic Adventure, Sonic was redesigned by Yuji Uekawa as a character with longer legs and a less spherical body, longer and more drooping quills, and green-colored irises. For the 2006 game, Sonic was redesigned to make him look adult-like and taller to appeal to the next generation players. This was also done because Sonic would interact with humans more often and his design was supposed to fit. An alternative "Werehog" form was introduced in Sonic Unleashed places more emphasis on Sonic's melee skills rather than speed. Although Tetsu Katano acknoweldged the large negative fan response to the Werehog, he believes it could return in a future game.